When I was a little girl I could spend hours looking through the Sears and JCPenney Christmas catalogs.
My brother, sister and I would circle everything we wanted.
It didn't matter that we wouldn't get all the things we had circled…the fun was talking about everything and putting our mark on it.
Those catalogs were dogeared and worn by the time Christmas came around.
With all the wishing and wanting we had done before Christmas I don't remember many of the gifts I received over my childhood.
Of course there are a few that stand out but for the most part I remember very little.
I do remember running up into the attic as soon as the Thanksgiving meal was over and dragging down all the decorations and very specifically telling everyone how I thought the tree should be decorated.
I remember my mom always hanging a felt nativity scene from the dinning room chandelier.
I remember decorating cookies and making gifts for friends.
I remember how much I loved how the tree made the whole living room look so warm and cozy.
I remember how much I loved Christmas Eve service. I still do. I think it is the highlight of the whole season! I loved how the church would look after the lights were turned off and the candles were lit from one person to the next. Silent Night has never sounded so beautiful and magical.
I remember coming home from Christmas Eve service and my family coming together to read the story of the birth of Christ.
So, it wasn't about the gifts after all.
I now have my own little family and I wonder what they will remember some day.
As we have started to celebrate these days leading up to Christmas Kelly and I have decided to do something a little different than previous years.
As these days leading up to Christmas are full of excitement…as they should be….we really wanted our children to not just spend the next 22 days thinking about themselves and what is in store for them.
Over the next 22 days we want our days to be full of thinking of others. Acts of service, words of kindness, encouragement and thoughtfulness.
We are not on this earth for ourselves. I don't want to teach my children that either.
I want to raise children that become adults that strive to serve throughout their whole life.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
These verses change my perspective on everything.
So, over these next weeks (and throughout the year) I want to be open to the ways that I can serve, bless, support, encourage….because no matter who I am serving I am truly serving the Lord.
I want to teach my children through my own actions to be the hands and feet of God on this earth.
This month can get crazy but it doesn't have to.
You have a choice…you always do.
You can say NO to all the things you don't really want to do and say YES to all the things that really matter.
I need this month to remember what matters.
To be intentional and present….and to remember that it has never really been about the gifts!
I would like to thank all the Pay It Forward Winners for your amazing interviews this week and sharing your creativity with us!
The winner of the Kelly Rae E-book, art, iphone cover and autographed datebook is….
Jacqueline from So Cute It Hurts.
Thank you to everyone that entered!!
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dearest beautiful brave mama and friend….
im not sure how i can tell you exactly HOW BADLY i needed to hear this today.
i have been feeling the exact same way about this season and about my children.
thank you for always sharing the most profound wisdom.
i really just love you to death and think you are OH SO WONDERFUL!
wish you were joining us this weekend.
Christmas eve service and singing Silent Night is one of my favorite parts of Christmas ~ it always makes me cry. Just reading about it gave me chills Jeannie. I vowed not to spread myself too soon this year ~ so far so good ~ we will see what the next 3 weeks bring. Happy Week-end!
I’m so thankful for the words you shared…beautiful…I ask the Lord to help me live them out…
Dear Jeanne, You are so right about this topic. We have lists in our house, but there are also many charities on these lists. I love that verse, too! At our UU Society, we started a “Socially Responsible Santa” program to provide for people in the community. Each year Santa comes to the coffee hour and during that time, “elves” collect cash from the adults. This is given, without warning, to women in battered women shelters, and others identified through local non-profits who work with them. It’s humbling to see people giving hundreds of dollars freely and without concern for tax writeoffs or anything else but just doing what they can. Recipients have used the money for downpayments on rent, utilities, car repairs and many other things. Oh, this feels so good! Especially since I was once in their position and know how hard the holidays can be. Please say a prayer for all the women who are spending their holiday this year in a shelter (or worse) terrified of someone who was supposed to love them, or fighting addictions, or trying to get on their feet somehow. I would love if you would share some of the ways you are teaching your children in upcoming posts! Merry Christmas to you! XOXO Suzen
I love this entry! And it’s inspiring me to go out and do something charitable with my son (he’s 4, so it won’t be big), but maybe buy a gift together for Toys for Tots. AND I may have to make it to a Candlelight Service this year. Thanks! 🙂
Well, I totally love this!!
Also, I used to memorize the big ol’ Penney’s catalog. I can still remember some of my favorite pages! I would also cut out everything that I wanted in my pretend home. And I always loved reading the color names of the bath towels and such! Oh, the memories!
sweet, sweet friend…this is such a wonderful post for sos many reasons.
It does seem that the holiday season has become about stuff and one-upping your neighbor on how chaotic you can make the month of December. A few years back I made the same commitment…more family, more giving, more fun home activities. The only thing that gets me worked up is coming up with an original card idea! I always try to out-do last year’s.
Here’s to the holiday being exactly what we all want it to be.
A beautiful post…wise words that remind us all what this season is supposed to be about…giving rather than receiving:)
How inspirational! And I too remember going through the JcPenny catalog as a child and picking out what I really wanted. Funny.
Congrats to Jacqueline…. love her.. and yes, u are so right.. Christmas is about the simple things we can do for each other. xo
Oh, how lovely. Thanks for sharing. I believe it was just yesterday when listening to the radio, people where sharing what Christmas means to them. It seemed to be all about themselves and gifts and such. I am so thankful I know that true meaning of Christmas, the gift of Jesus Christ. I try to share that gift with whoever I can.
Dearest sweet Jeanne, i am so loving this inspiring post so much. I read the christmas potion 2 times before getting to the end of the post with the annoucement to winner to your Pay It forward. I am so inspired by you. You and these verses you shared here with us has change my perspective on everything. Christmas is truely a time to be giving. I too need this time to remember what matters most. Thank YOU so much for this reminder!
NOW, i can jump up and down with excitement! I can’t believe i’m seeing my name on that last potion with the annoucement!! Thank YOU so much for giving me such a wonderful opportunity!! You are my inspiration and you are so amazing and wonderful!!
Have a lovely merry happy weekend! Lots of love to you and yours!!
Love this post my dear. I try to tell my children every year what the Holidays are all about. Yes, its about giving and receiving, but the gifts that we are supposed to give are not materialistic….they are good acts from the heart – and in return we receive the same wonderful gifts back!!
Besides, I tell the kids – do you remember Christ talking about his amazing gifts that he received from the 3 wise men the day he was born? Hmmmm….thought not 😉
Have a wonderful Friday!!
ps – oh the memories of the big ol’ Sears and Penney’s catalogs!!! I dreamed so many dreams with those catalogs…..
such a sweet post, jeanie 🙂 you’re such a lovely person.
I haven’t even started thinking about Christmas yet. This was a beautiful post, and a great way to begin (with the proper perspective and all). Thank you!
Loved remembering the catalogs too! 🙂
love those verses, too, jeanne. that is what it is all about. you all will have a beautiful christmas season. love you.
This is a wonderful post. We are so busy being cared for now. My husband was diagnosed with inoperable Pancreatic Cancer when I returned from Silver Bella. I wanted to let you know but how do you tell something like that? Please keep us in your prayers.
Thank you for the blog and the wonderful inspiration it gives to me!
A beautiful post, Jeanne. Thanks so much for taking the time to remind us of the important things this Christmas holiday time.
Saying yes to what really matters is heaven… it’s what I’m working on living right now, and there is complete peace and joy in it.
be intentional… such power in those two little words. Loving them and you!
My brother and sister totally did the same thing with the Sears and JC Penny Christmas catalogs. It was fun to dream at that age. And then I had kids of my own and they did the same thing. That memory for me came full circle. Thanks for the wonderful post.
This is a beautiful post. Thank you!